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Grand Canyon National Park and Tusayan, AZ


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The Grand Canyon certainly lived up to all expectations.  What a marvelous place.

We spent one full day and two half days on the South Rim and we covered a lot of territory.  We were there at the end of September on a weekend, which is the tail end of peak season.  I felt like the park was busy but not slammed with people.  All of the hotel lodging inside the park was booked up well in advance and we had limited options for hotels in Tusayan, even booking several months in advance.  If you are planning to go during peak season, especially on a weekend, definitely consider making your plans well in advance.

On the first day, we arrived late afternoon and had a good walk about near the visitors center and along the rim trail to Yavapai Point for the sunset, around 6:30 pm.   

Day two we did a big morning hike on the Bright Angel Trail to the 3 mile rest area (2,000 feet down) and then back up, which took about 4.5 hours.  After a much needed break and beer at the cocktail lounge at the Bright Angel Lodge (which is a rustic style bar with a handful of local-ish beers on tap) we hopped on to the free tour bus out to Hermit's Rest, stopping at various overlooks along the way.  The tour buses run fairly frequently and we never had more than a 5 to 10 minute wait for the next one to arrive.   

Day three we drove out to Desert View Watchtower, which is about 20 miles from the main visitor center area, and then drove back stopping at the overlooks along that route.  Depending upon how many stops you make, this can also take a couple of hours.    

We stayed at the Holiday Inn in Tusayan, AZ, which is the small town just outside the South Rim entrance.  If you are unable to book lodging at any of the National Park Service facilities inside the park (which book out a year in advance during peak season) then Tusayan is very convenient.  The town is one main drag with hotels, restaurants, and other tourist services.  And not much else.  There is one general store where you can buy basic groceries, beer, wine and liquor.  If you want anything more exciting best bring it yourself.

In Tusayan, we ate dinner at Plaza Bonita, a local Mexican restaurant chain-let and was pleasantly surprised.  Think big platters of rice and beans and your standard Mexican food of choice.  The tacos al pastor ($17) were actually quite tasty.  After a long drive and some canyon time, it hit the spot.  We got there around 8pm and it was clear the dinner rush was ending and we only had a short wait for a table.  Dinner was big enough that we got two meals out of it.  Our Holiday Inn had a basic breakfast and we packed lunches on Day 2 and 3. 

The Grand Canyon...it's worth the trip.

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23 minutes ago, Tweaked said:

Day two we did a big morning hike on the Bright Angel Trail to the 3 mile rest area (2,000 feet down) and then back up, which took about 4.5 hours. 

Deceivingly steep, isn't it (although you kind of pick up on that when you're heading down).

Did you see any condors? Last time I went, I saw none, but the time before, a couple of them were so big that they blocked out the sun when they flew overhead.

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Actually, I didn't find it too bad.  The last 500 feet or so kinda kicked our butts.  

The last time I went hiking in a canyon at elevation, which was in the Rockies, I had a 30lbs kid strapped to my back...so no problems!

Unfortunately, we did not see any condor.  Wish we had!  We did see plenty of elk inside the park.

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